Building network is having a connection of people surround you who can support, motivate and inspire you. Your network shares knowledge and information that can enable you to achieve your goals.
While you need your network to be strong and reliable, you also want to build network of people who can bring diverse experiences and opportunities to your life and career.
In other words, you don’t want your network to be too monolithic… people who only think like you, look like you or do the same thing that you do.
Why You Need to Build Network
One of my mentors used to say: “Your net-worth is often determined by your network.”
Though the term “self-made man or woman” sounds great, in reality, no one person succeeded without a single bit of help through his or her lifetime.
Somewhere along the line, there was at least one person who reached out and helped someone else get where he or she wanted to be.
Network can keep you moving forward with your goals. By connecting with other people, there can be a source of help waiting for you that will provide you with encouragement.
Having a solid network can sometimes help you understand that you’re not in it alone. On the days that it can be difficult to keep on going, others are there to help you shoulder the burden or get your mindset to a better place.
A reliable network can serve as the bouncing-off board for new ideas. Or they may be able to suggest going in a different direction when the one you’re on is filled with more obstacles than you anticipated.
In almost any endeavor in life, our emotions are closely tangled with whatever it is that we’re doing. When you have a team of people you network with, you’ll often find a great network of emotional support.
With a good network, you can create partnerships or joint ventures that can lead to even greater opportunities. You can double the amount of output you’re capable of when you have a network.
You’ll also gain the benefit of others who may have more experience and wisdom with the project that you’re dealing with. Maybe they know a shortcut or can help you avoid a disastrous result by offering a bit of advice.
These 3 Simple Steps Can Help You Build Strong Networks
1. Think win win
There are wrong way and the right way to network. The wrong way is when you are only thinking: “What’s in it for me?” The right way is when you think win-win and there’s enough to go around!
In fact, the way to build a reliable network is to serve others first. People love it when you serve them first, and they feel compelled that they need to reciprocate.
With your professional colleagues, they can offer help with some of the projects that you need to do or some of the situations that you need to be handled. They can be a sympathetic ear when you need one and you can often find a group of people who will have your back when the time comes to stand up for something.
In exchange, you can offer help with projects they need help with as well as offering the same support when they’re in need of someone to listen to them brainstorm or even vent.
If you’re trying to build a network with your clients, this can benefit you by giving you someone who will root for you, someone who can help you reach your professional goals such as an increased client roster.
You can benefit this person by offering loyalty and the commitment to give each task your peak performance. Make sure you over-deliver and they will often reciprocate for you in the form of recommendations and testimonials.
Network with people who know more than you in whatever area you need the help with. You’ll gain from their wisdom, their years of experience – and their contacts can become your potential contacts as well.
You can give them back fresh ideas, help with a project and be someone to bounce ideas off of.
If you don’t give, don’t expect to receive. And the worst thing you can do is to be cynical about your “giving.” People will easily see through it. Give genuinely and frequently, and your network will reciprocate when you need.
2. Go to Where the Networking Opportunities Exist
Networking does not come to you, you have to seek out networking.
When you’re looking to network, you do have to put yourself out there to make connections. Even if you’re making connections online, you still have to reach out.
Regardless of where you plan to connect, make it a priority to try to create at least one new networking opportunity every day. It may take a few contacts to make a solid connection.
Look for organizations of similar interest. If you’re into making and selling jewelry and you’re hoping to network because your end goal is to grow your business, then you need to network with professional organizations and leaders in the same niche.
Of course, joining isn’t enough – you have to be an active participant.
How are people in a group going to know who to recommend for you to network with if they’re unaware of your slant in the marketplace? So, don’t be afraid to be vocal about what you do and where you plan to take your business.
Look up trade organizations in the field that you’re in. Pay attention to local and statewide organizations as well as national and international ones. These organizations can also help keep you in the loop on the latest trends and news in your area of interest.
You can get to know other people within these associations that form a bigger community and a greater chance of networking. Reach out to individual members who seem active and form closer bonds and friendships.
Go to as many conferences as you can possibly attend every year. You’ll be able to mingle with others who can offer you resources and connections to help you reach your end goals.
You’ll gain practical advice, be able to take learn from someone else’s knowledge – and come away feeling inspired. Plus, you’ll enjoy the camaraderie of colleagues.
Make sure that you have an easy way that others at the gathering can contact you. Many people use business cards. Emails and social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) now make it very easy to keep in touch.
Go online to find the networking opportunities that you need. Many of the organizations that you’ll seek have an online presence.
If there’s not something already online for a networking opportunity in the field that you’re in or headed in, then create one. You can bet that if you’re looking to network and nothing’s available, that others are too – and they will find you.
Networking opportunities are abundant in many areas where you can find support both for your personal and professional goals. Being a part of a community should help you move toward your goals, so make sure you don’t join one that seems to drag you down.
3. Don’t Loose the Steam
After you’ve sought out networking and made those initial contacts, you want to make sure that you take the opportunities offered to you among this initial network.
But eventually, if your circle of networking remains the same and you’re not adding new connections, you’ll lose momentum. It should always be growing at a steady rate.
Because it takes time, effort and resources to build a network, it makes no sense to let your networks stagnate. A network needs to be active for it to remain viable. There are several ways that you can cultivate your relationships in this network – and this will work for personal or professional goals.
Stay active. Too many people network to help reach their end goal and then they slack off. They join organizations and they’re so powered by motivation and determination at the beginning.
When they start accomplishing mini goals or reach the one big goal, they start to take it easy, believing they’ve arrived and no longer need anyone else’s support to succeed.
Success is not an arrival. It is a continual pattern of growth. If you joined organizations to make networking connections, you need to keep up with those organizations on a regular basis.
Even if you don’t have the same amount of time that you had in the beginning, you still need some kind of time commitment in order to keep the contacts you have interested and to build new ones in the future.
Whatever it took to build your success is what it will take to keep it growing.
It’s a basic formula of lather, rinse, repeat – only in the case of reaching goals, it’s network, build, repeat.
Networking is a contact game; you lose the contact, you lose the network.